Israel-Gaza War, Humanitarian Aid

UN Watch: UNRWA chatrooms reveal theft and resale of humanitarian aid by UNRWA employees

Three chat rooms operated by and for UNRWA reveal multiple reports of theft of aid by UNRWA employees, including quite senior ones.

UNRWA handing out aid - and allegedly stealing it, too. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Watchdog organization UN Watch published a report today (Wednesday) alleging that multiple UNRWA employees, junior and senior, have been stealing, selling, or hoarding aid meant to be given to Gazan civilians for free, based on testimonies and messages in UNRWA-affiliated chatrooms.

The provision of humanitarian aid to Gazan civilians as the war rages has been a contentious subject from the start, with the IDF and humanitarian NGOs blaming each other for difficulties in ensuring the aid gets where it needs to go.

UNRWA in particular has come in for harsh criticism from the IDF and the Israeli government for being too close to Hamas, with many of its employees having significant terror ties and a few even participating in October 7.

Now, newly published messages from UNRWA-affiliated chatrooms show UNRWA employees saying their colleagues often steal, hoard, and sell what they are supposed to give away for free.

One UNRWA employee, Mohammed Musa al-Sawalhi, reported mass theft in shelters: "What we witnessed with our own eyes in the shelters that we passed through and what we heard from reliable friendly sources is that the workers in the shelters have their homes full of aid and not only them, but their loved ones with them."

Another group member, Dr. Izzat Shatat, wrote "The director of a school warehouse came now with 50 cartons of food that were distributed in UNRWA schools and sold them to a merchant for 350 shekels per carton, equivalent to $100… How did he take out this amount of cartons? Where is the administration about this?"

UN Watch argues that the solution to this is putting other humanitarian organizations in charge such as WFP, as they are known to have more probity.

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